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Explaining Black-White Wage Convergence, 1940-1950: The Role of the Great Compression

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  • Robert A. Margo

Abstract

The "Great Compression" of the 1940s produced a substantial narrowing in wage differentials in the United States. This paper examines the role of the Great Compression in fostering black-white wage convergence in the 1940s. Using data from the 1940 and 1950 census public use samples, I show that between half and two-thirds of black white wage convergence at the sample means can be attributed to shifts in wage structure associated with the Great Compression. I also demonstrate that, by (temporarily) boosting the incomes of black parents. the Great Compression led to greater increases in schooling levels among black teens between 1940 and 1950 than would have occurred otherwise.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert A. Margo, 1993. "Explaining Black-White Wage Convergence, 1940-1950: The Role of the Great Compression," NBER Historical Working Papers 0044, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0044
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/h0044.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1992. "School Quality and Black-White Relative Earnings: A Direct Assessment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 151-200.
    2. Donohue, John J, III & Heckman, James, 1991. "Continuous versus Episodic Change: The Impact of Civil Rights Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1603-1643, December.
    3. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1992. "The Gender Earnings Gap: Learning from International Comparisons," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 533-538, May.
    4. Smith, James P, 1984. "Race and Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 685-698, September.
    5. Claudia Goldin & Robert A. Margo, 1992. "The Great Compression: The Wage Structure in the United States at Mid-Century," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 1-34.
    6. repec:hrv:faseco:30703979 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Smith, James P, 1986. "Race and Human Capital: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1225-1229, December.
    8. Margo, Robert A, 1986. "Race and Human Capital: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1221-1224, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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